I have never seen any noticable difference in whitening shampoos. I do like to use diamond eye to remove tearing stains under the eyes. A good dog food that has no colors in the ingredience will help a little with tearing.
All (87) breed dog grooming for the beginner. The above book was my Bible when I was first learning to groom. It is easier than most people think. I don't like the way they looked shaved either. I like long pretty hair.
Limit use of the blue whiteners to once every few months or so because they can be harsh. Use a gentle shampoo. Since you have a Bichon and a bichon mix, you should use coditioner becasue it makes it easier to brush through their hair. You can also buy a detangler, which works really well. Bichons aren't that hard to groom at all. The problem with them is how consistent it has to be. I trim, fluff, and wash Frosty myself. I clip his nails. I do everything for him. Really, if you get a pair of good scissors and the right brushes, it's not that hard. To see Frosty after his fluffing (and remember, he has a pretty sparse coat for a Bichon), go to http://firstname.lastname@example.org/FrostyPG.html http://home.att.ne.jp/gold/bichon/trimming.htm Here's a place to find out how to trim. It helped me some. Read a few breed books or grooming books and it'll help some.